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City of Medford Financial Task Force Releases Plan for Investments in Public Schools, Fire Headquarters, and Road Repair

City of Medford Financial Task Force Releases Plan for Investments in Public Schools, Fire Headquarters, and Road Repair

Mayor and leadership of City Council and School Committee announce proposal for historic major financial investments in schools, roads, and Fire Headquarters with three proposition 2 ½ questions to appear on November ballot

Pending City Council approval, Mayor will advance $1.75 million in one-time funds to the schools

(MEDFORD) — After several discussions and thoughtful negotiations, the Mayor, City Council leadership, School Committee leadership, and municipal staff, serving as the city’s Financial Task Force, are releasing a historic proposal for consideration at the Medford City Council’s June 11, 2024 regular meeting that includes three ballot questions; two override questions totaling $7,500,000 million in additional funding to be invested in the schools and City, and one debt exclusion question for a new fire headquarters, for voters to consider on the November 2024 general election ballot that support major investments in Medford’s future.

Two ballot questions will be proposed by Mayor Lungo-Koehn:

·      A Proposition 2 ½ override of $3,500,000 to stabilize Medford Public Schools funding including but not limited to funding costs of teacher(s), literacy coach(s), behavior specialist(s), administrative assistant(s), and nurse(s) positions, and for regular facilities maintenance, and for FY 2025 general operations of the Department of Public Works ($500,000), including but not limited to additional staff for road and sidewalk infrastructure repair

·      A Proposition 2 ½ debt exclusion to fund a bond in an amount up to $30,000,000 to be issued for the design and construction of a new Medford Fire Department headquarters to be located at 120 Main Street

One ballot question will be proposed by Council President Bears and Vice President Collins:

·      A Proposition 2 ½ override of $4,000,000 to invest in Medford Public Schools to create a high school schedule that increases access to arts and vocational programming, expands classroom instructional opportunities, and for classroom teacher and paraprofessional compensation.

The expected cost of these combined questions would increase property taxes for the average single-family home in Medford (assessed value of $769,000) by approximately $446 per year or $37 per month.

If approved by a sufficient vote of the City Council, the Mayor has committed to advance all three ballot questions for consideration by the voters in the general election to be held on Tuesday, November 5, 2024.

Additionally, the Mayor will propose an amendment to the proposed city budget to further increase the FY25 municipal funding allocation for Medford Public Schools from $76 million to $77.75 million through the use of $1.75 million in a one-time fund advance, $500,000 of which will fund the purchase of Chromebooks and laptops and begins an annual refresh cycle to maintain our district-wide technology. 

If voters approve the two override questions for Medford Public Schools, the City Council can then consider further increases to the budget based on the School Committee and Superintendent’s recommendations in a supplemental appropriation after the November election.

“It has been clear to me that additional funding above the 2.5 percent tax levy threshold is needed if we want to properly invest in our infrastructure and enhance the student and faculty experience in our schools,” Mayor Lungo-Koehn said. “That’s why I supported the possibility of putting an override question to voters in 2022 and it’s why I support these three questions going on the ballot now. A “Yes” vote would allow us to hire literacy coaches, continue to fund behavior specialists and teachers, refresh roughly a quarter of our computer equipment per year and so much more. We would be able to properly maintain our systems, ensuring our school buildings are safe and secure. But asking the hard-working people of this community, many of whom are struggling to stay afloat, to pay for it weighs on me heavily. Ultimately, I believe the numbers we have agreed to, if passed, would fulfill our greatest needs, mainly in our schools and for our children. I know this is the right decision because the alternative would mean more cuts and more challenges for our students, and we cannot afford to continue on that path. This is a big decision that requires considerable thought. I truly believe however that approving these ballot questions is the right thing and I hope the majority of the community agrees.”

The members of the Financial Task Force are Mayor and School Committee Chair Breanna Lungo-Koehn, City Council President Isaac B. “Zac” Bears, School Committee Vice Chair Jenny Graham, City Council Vice President Kit Collins, and Chief of Staff Nina Nazarian.

“This historic plan to invest in our schools, streets, and Fire Headquarters is the product of nine months of hard work by the Financial Task Force,” said Council President Bears. “I am thankful for the collaboration between the Mayor, School Committee leadership, and Council leadership to put the opportunity for major and long overdue investments before the voters in November, and I am confident that Medford voters are ready to vote yes to invest in our future.”

“Our residents have told me for years that they want to invest in Medford Public Schools,” said School Committee Vice Chair Graham. “I am pleased to tell those residents that we’ve heard you, AND we’re ready to give Medford the opportunity to say YES to building a better MPS.”

"Together, this Task Force has rigorously considered the needs facing Medford Public Schools and City infrastructure, and collaborated on critical next steps to enable a better future for all Medford students and residents,” Council Vice-President Kit Collins said. “I have every confidence that Medford voters will approve all three of these much-needed investments on the ballot in November."

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